Scams, crimes and botany
One of the first scenes of this six-episode mini-series illustrates this bias. In 1965, Clark and his gang had the brilliant idea of breaking into a magnificent mansion. In this case, the Harpsund mansion, the summer residence of the Swedish Prime Minister. Åkerlund imagines a face-to-face between the young Clark and the head of state Tage Erlander armed with a rifle. In reality, the would-be delinquents had only been caught by the gardener for stealing grapes and fruit from the vegetable garden.
It was not the first shot of Clark Olofsson, named so by his mother in reference to actor Clark Gable. From his childhood at “shitty things” the Swede stole bikes, cakes, set up schemes and very quickly became interested in women. Money, parties and sex will punctuate the existence of this man who has never had a real job.
To finance himself, he, on the other hand, used two of his qualities: resourcefulness and his imagination. Starting cars without the keys, filling oranges with hashish in Beirut, robbing banks (even once without being armed…). His “myth” was forged, too, because of his countless escapes.
Clark Olofsson, above all, remained famous in Sweden for the robbery of Norrmalmstorg (Stockholm). On August 23, 1973, Jan-Erik Olsson entered a bank and took four people hostage. In the middle of the break, he called the Swedish Minister of Justice Lennart Geijer so that his former prison companion, Clark Olofsson, joined him on the spot. During this hostage-taking, the victims took up the cause of their attackers. Syndrome, now known as Stockholm syndrome.
A mad achievement
To portray the fate of this extraordinary character, Jonas Åkerlund, known for his music videos (Madonna, Rammstein, Queens of the Stone Age, The Prodigy, Metallica, The Rolling Stones…), let go.
In the writing, first, by sketching whimsical characters in hyperburlesque scenes (sometimes too much) and using Swedish slang. In his realization, then, by alternating sepia and colored images according to the period, by enlarging or reducing the frame of his image à la Xavier Dolan in Mommyor even by sprinkling the episodes with documentary archives, cartoons, video games à la David F. Sandberg in kungfury. He has, above all, opted for a full-throttle editing (à la Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but without dreamlikeness and poetry), the speed of which can cause migraines.
The clipper-star succeeds in drawing a nuanced portrait of this famous criminal. Sometimes, Clark Olofsson comes across as a fascinating, intelligent (he read a lot, graduated in journalism with honors) and endearing character. Very charismatic, Bill Skarsgård is excellent in helping us understand his charm.
A narcissistic manipulator
The mini-series, and especially the last episode, shows, on the contrary, the dark side of a man raised by an abusive father. The Swedish mobster is then portrayed as a manipulator, narcissist and psychopath. Capable of stabbing an onlooker for a simple thought, of playing with fire (going to lunch right next to a police station on the run), of continually disappointing his relatives and in particular his Belgian ex-wife .
The Swede thus lived in Wellen in Limburg for years, became Belgian in 1991, changed his name before plunging back to 61 for drug trafficking in 2008. For four years, he has regained his freedom after seeing spent a large part of his adult life behind bars, having respected the promise he had made to himself. “If I couldn’t be the best at being the best, I was going to be the best at being the worst.”